It wasn’t until I moved in with my first college flatmate, Rebecca, that I realized I was using everyday items that were actually toxic. She told me she was using deodorant without aluminum and toothpaste without fluoride, something I never even knew existed. After a bit of research, I was shocked to see I was directly applying a toxin to my body each day.
As I’ve come to face the issue of chemicals in my life, I’ve found that people often write off toxic, cancer-causing chemicals as something that is ever-present and unavoidable. In our discussions, people often say, “Well everything causes cancer”. Most young folks feel their death is far off and their bodies are invincible. But even people who are thin, relatively young and look healthy still get sick. And when this happened to someone I knew that was fit, healthy and relatively young, the reality hit home. Tonya, my best friend’s mom, is far more beautiful and younger-looking than me. When she got sick, I watched my friend and her families’ world turn upside down.
For Tonya, breast cancer became the new normal for a bit. She shaved her head and completely changed how she treated her body. No more toxic chemicals. Tonya went vegan and changed all the products that she uses. She educated herself on what causes cancer and changed her life so that she could survive and ward off future remission.
I wish I could say Tonya is the only youngish person I know who’s been bitten by the devilish snake of breast cancer. But that is not the case. Other moms and wonderful women I know from work have also been affected. And I wonder if they know what Tonya knows:
Chemicals are a big part of the problem.
Here are some fast facts about chemicals from Mercola
- The United States permits more than 84,000 chemicals to be used in household products, cosmetics, food, and food packaging, and a majority of these have never been tested for safety.
- Scientific evidence strongly suggests that exposure to chemicals is contributing to cancer, reproductive abnormalities, early puberty,1,2,3 and a host of
other endocrine, neurological, and metabolic problems.
- When chemicals are combined, their
synergistic toxicitycan increase exponentially.
- It’s thought that 1 in 5 cancers may be caused by exposure to environmental chemicals, and according to a recent study4 published in the journal Carcinogenesis, this includes chemicals deemed “safe” on their own.
Ok so now that you’re sufficiently depressed, let’s see what we can do about this. First, given that the US allows over 84k chemicals to be used in everyday products, it’s safe to say that sometimes we must cohabitate with the toxic devil. But just because the situation is bleak does not allow us to throw in the towel, simply say “everything causes cancer”, and not take preventative action. This is what a coward would do when facing an uphill battle. Are you a coward? No, I didn’t think so!
Here’s what we need to do.
First, we need to educate ourselves. This article will be far too short and under-informed for you to stop your research here. I suggest starting from Mercola.com‘s articles on chemicals. They have a lot more detailed info and suggestions that you can implement.
Secondly, we need to examine the products we use and the food we eat in our everyday lives. How many of them contain man-made or harmful chemicals? Is there a natural substitute? Often times, you can easily change your exposure to toxicity simply by switching brands or using natural products like vinegar or baking soda as replacements.
Lastly, if there are necessary products that contain chemicals, we should at least ensure that we do not choose a brand that uses one of the “dirty dozen”, or the top 12 chemicals that have been identified as being very dangerous in disrupting our endocrine system and, therefore, our hormonal balance. Click here to read more about the effects of the dirty dozen.
Dirty dozen is present in the following everyday items (and more not listed):
1. Makeup, skin-care products, shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothpaste
2. Flame retardants in furniture like your couch and mattress
3. Your dryer and it’s scented dryer
4. Candles, sprays and other scents
5. Water needs to be correctly filtered because public water contains three of the dirty dozen chemicals: Atrazine, arsenic, and perchlorate
6. Canned foods and shitty water bottles are lined with BPA – avoid them!
7. Pesticide-ridden fruits and veggies (Friends you are eating sweet potatoes with a side of Roundup poison)
8. Meats (Ok, we all know I recommend going vegan. Animals are pumped full of antibiotics, hormones, and industrial chemicals so you’re eating all that)
9. Mercury in fish (This is a real thing that people don’t take seriously enough! Tony Robbins got really sick from mercury poisoning and he easily could have died. Eating bigger fish like Tuna will be even worse because they have the highest poison levels from consuming smaller fish that contain mercury as well.)
10. Kitchen supplies like non-stick cookware, plastic wrap, plastic Tupperware (Use glass instead and never heat plastic)
11. Pretty much all home cleaning products are toxic
12. Ink and receipts are toxic (When they ask you if you want that receipt, say no!!)
The Natural Solution – all the natural brands and alternatives you can use
Water: Filter your shower and sinks with Aquasana
Canned foods: Use foods contained in glass jars and glass water bottles too
Fresh food: Organic fruits/veggies, grass-fed meat, limit fish (For more info on what you can do with mercury in fish, read this)
Kitchen supplies: Use iron pans, avoid non-stick pans, use glass food containers, and instead of plastic wrap use a sustainable beeswax wrap
Cleaning products: DIY cleaning products, usually using ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, hydrogen peroxide and more
Inks: Avoid receipts and ink as much as possible. I don’t know much about this company, but they sell sustainable inks: Sun Chemical
This article is just a jumping off point. It is not exhaustive by any means. From here, I hope you consider the products you use for yourself, your children and loved ones.
We don’t have the choice of whether or not we will be exposed to many to many chemicals in our environment. Sometimes you need to drive a car, pump gas and live in a busy city like NYC. Knowing this, it’s important that we make the correct choice to eliminate and limit toxic chemicals when we have the opportunity. The body is very resilient, but it can only handle so much before cells mutate and turn cancerous.
PS: More sad facts
- According to recent research, you can reduce your risk of breast cancer by avoiding certain chemicals found in common, everyday products
- An estimated 90 percent of Americans have flame-retardant chemicals in their bodies, and many studies have linked them to human health risks, including liver, kidney, testicular, and breast cancers
- Previous studies have shown that all parabens have estrogenic activity in human breast cancer cells. In one study, 99 percent of cancerous tissue samples were found to contain parabens